Psalm 55:16-23 The Voice (VOICE)
16 But I, I shall call upon God,
For they have refused change;
20 My friend has become a foe, breaking faith, tearing down peace.
22 Cast your troubles upon the Eternal;
23 But You, O God, You will drive them
Esther 6:1-7:6 The Voice (VOICE)
The Persians have a particularly grisly way of humiliating and killing those they hate. A tree is cut down and sharpened to a point at one end. In some cases, the condemned are killed, and their lifeless bodies are impaled on it. Others are hung on the pole as a mode of torture and execution. It is erected in some public place as an example for others, and the 75-foot pole described here is high enough to be seen over most buildings and small trees. Soon birds and insects begin eating away at the dead or dying. Political enemies, criminals, and dissidents often end their lives this way. The threat of public death and humiliation has kept many from disobeying the law, but not Mordecai.
6 That same night the king was unable to sleep, so he ordered the official records of his reign to be brought and read before him. 2 As the record was read, the king was reminded of the time when Mordecai saved his life. Mordecai had been the one who reported that Bigthana and Teresh, two of the royal eunuchs who guarded the doors, were plotting to assassinate the king.[a]
King Ahasuerus (to his servants): 3 Did Mordecai receive any recognition for this action? Was he honored in any way?
Servants: He received no recognition for this.
King Ahasuerus: 4 Is anyone out in the court now?
Haman had just arrived at the outer court of King Ahasuerus’ palace. He hoped to speak with the king about executing Mordecai and hanging him on the pole he had prepared.
Servants: 5 Haman is here waiting in the court to see you.
King Ahasuerus: Allow him to come in.
6 So Haman entered the king’s chambers. He waited for the king to speak first.
King Ahasuerus: Haman, I want to ask you something. What do you believe is the proper manner in which to honor a man who has pleased me?
Then Haman thought to himself, “There is no one the king wishes to honor more than me.”
Haman: 7 If you desire to honor a man, I believe you should do this: 8 First, have your servants bring one of the robes you have worn and one of the horses you have ridden that has worn the royal crown on its head. 9 Then, you should give the robe and horse to one of your most noble officials. Have him robe the man whom you want to honor and then lead the man on horseback throughout the center of the city. It should be announced that this is what happens for the man whom the king wants to honor.
King Ahasuerus: 10 Your idea is perfect, Haman. I want you to go and do this immediately. Take one of my robes and one of my horses and do exactly what you have suggested to Mordecai, the Jewish man who sits at my gate. Do everything you have said, and don’t leave out one single detail. Not one!
The situation is now reversed, and Haman is forced to honor the man he has sought to kill.
11 Haman was mortified. He took the robe and horse; he dressed Mordecai in the king’s robe and led him throughout the square of the city.
Haman (shouting): This is what happens for the man whom the king desires to honor!
12 When it was done, Mordecai returned to the king’s gate. But Haman fled to his home, mourning and covering his head in humiliation. 13 He told his wife, Zeresh, and all his friends everything that had happened to him. They offered him a bit of wise advice.
Zeresh and His Friends: You must be very careful with how you handle Mordecai! If he really is a Jew, a descendant of the nation that defeated your ancestors, then you won’t be able to succeed. In fact, you will most certainly be destroyed! Look, you’ve already begun to bow to him.
14 In the middle of their conversation, the king’s eunuchs arrived at Haman’s house and rushed him off to have dinner with Esther and the king.
7 King Ahasuerus and Haman came to dine with Queen Esther; 2 and while they were drinking wine, the king posed his question once again.
King Ahasuerus: What is your request, Queen Esther? I’m willing to give you anything you want. Just make your request. Even if it’s half the kingdom you desire, I will make it happen!
Queen Esther: 3 If you favor me, my king, and if it pleases you, spare my life. That’s all I’m asking for—that my people and I be spared. That is my wish. 4 There are some, my king, who wish to rid your kingdom of us. For my people and I have been sold, marked for destruction and massacre. Now if the plan were simply to sell our men and women into slavery, I would have kept my mouth closed because that would not have been important enough to disturb you, my king.
Esther’s plea to Ahasuerus echoes the words of Moses to Pharaoh: “Let my people go.”
King Ahasuerus: 5 Who has targeted your people? Where is this man who dares to do this?
Queen Esther (pointing to Haman): 6 The man responsible for these actions is wicked Haman. He is vile, and an enemy to my people.
In that moment, Haman’s joy turned to terror before the king and queen.
Romans 9:30-10:4 The Voice (VOICE)
For Paul, the astonishing truth of the gospel has to do with what God is now doing with the non-Jews. Apparently God’s plan all along is to make those who are not His people into His people. All those who never experienced God’s love are now experiencing it as they enter into the life of the Spirit through faith. But what does this mean for Israel? Israel, too, is included in the people of God; but again, this does not mean all of Israel. Pedigree is not what counts; faith is. As it was in the days of the prophets, so it is again. Divine judgment is falling on disobedience, but a remnant of faithful Jews—a fraction of the whole—is being saved.
30 So what does all of this mean? Did the non-Jews stumble into a right standing with God without chasing after it? Yes, they found it through faith. 31 And has Israel, who pursued the law to secure a right standing with God, failed to keep the law? Yes again. 32 And why is that? Because Israel did not follow the path of faith. They thought that whatever they needed to be right with God could be accomplished by doing the works of the law; they tripped over the stumbling stone. 33 As the Scriptures say,
Look what I am going to do in Zion.
10 My brothers and sisters, I pray constantly to God for the salvation of my people; it is the deep desire of my heart. 2 What I can say about them is that they are enthusiastic about God, but that won’t lead them to Him because their zeal is not based on true knowledge. 3 In their ignorance about how God is working to make things right, they have been trying to establish their own right standing with God through the law. But they are not operating under God’s saving, restorative justice. 4 You see, God’s purpose for the law reaches its climax when the Anointed One arrives; now all who trust in Him can have their lives made right with God.